The University Record, January 22, 2001

Grant funds study of bone-growing therapy for children with jaw defects

By Kara Gavin
Health System Public Relations

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has received a $447,364 grant from the Carls Foundation to help advance the understanding and care of children with pediatric mandibular deficiency via distraction osteogenesis.

Under the direction of Steven R. Buchman, chief of pediatric plastic surgery and director of the Craniofacial Anomalies Program, the pioneering three-year project will focus on children with debilitating functional limitations of the jaw and mouth and severe disfigurement that result from congenital bony growth disturbances.

According to Buchman, who also is associate professor of surgery, traditional surgical interventions to address the problems of these children have been woefully inadequate. Normally, children with mandibular deficiency have waited until adolescence to undergo effective surgical correction, long after many other aspects of their development may have been negatively affected.

Distraction osteogenesis, Buchman explains, involves the stimulation of new jawbone formation by gradual separation of bone on two fronts, using the patient’s bone to replace and reconstruct the underdeveloped facial skeleton.

Despite greater utilization of distraction osteogenesis, Buchman emphasizes that relatively little is known about the clinical parameters or molecular mechanisms that regulate the formation of new bone derived from this technique. This study is particularly important, he notes, as it will make it possible to analyze the behavioral, social and communicative outcomes of distraction osteogenesis in children.

The Carls Foundation, founded by the late William and Marie Carls in 1961, supports youth activities—especially for disadvantaged children—pediatric health care facilities and programs, and preservation of natural areas and historic buildings throughout Michigan.

“The foundation is playing a significant role in helping us launch this new project that can provide lifelong benefit to thousands of youngsters afflicted with severe physical disorders,” Buchman says.

“By entering into a new partnership with Mott Children’s Hospital, the foundation can ensure that other pediatric health care institutions throughout Michigan and nationally will be made aware of the outcomes of this project and this extraordinary new technology that so dramatically improves the lives of so many children and their families.”

A previous Carls Foundation grant to the Section of Pediatric Otolaryngology helped establish a new diagnostic and treatment program for children at risk of profound hearing loss.